A 100 percent Liberian owned beverage company, Atlantic Foods Company, with an initial investment of US$1.2 million, has been launched to bring about innovation to the Liberian fruit juice and mineral water manufacturing sector.
The company will produce bottled water, orange juice, ginger, and citrus ginger beverages.
Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, who cut the ribbon at the launch in Marshall, Margibi County on Friday, thanked the chief executive officer, Amin Modad, for the investment.
"When I think about your investment, it says a lot to me because you took your time, resources and everything for it; and these mean a lot to me," Veep Boakai said. "Amin, I know this is the just the beginning."
Ambassador Boakai said Modad has a good business and investment plan for the country, and called on other citizens to emulate his good example.
Vice president Boakai cuts the ribbon to the building as Mrs. Modad and other looks on
The Deputy Minister for Industry (DMI) at the Ministry of Commerce, Roland S. Carey, also congratulated Modad for the investment.
"What we are launching here today is my shop; I will take care of my shop. So, Mr. Modad, thank you for the venture, you have our support. We are particularly proud of Amin because he came from the Ministry of Commerce and we must do everything to support you," he said.
The chairperson of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Etmonia Tarpeh, thanked Modad and encouraged other young Liberians who want to do business in Liberia not to give up.
Earlier, the chief executive officer of AFC, Amin Modad, said the company hopes to revolutionize the food processing industry in the country. He said the company uses the latest technologies to ensure that no part of the natural fruit goes to waste.
Modad noted with delight the birth of the AFC fruit juice, saying that its primary objective is to add value to domestic growth with the initial focus on producing and exporting quality beverages.
"As a solely Liberian owned company, we aim to empower and develop the professional capacity of our people. AFC intends to employ Liberians at every level of the corporate structure.
"The beverage industry offers a unique mixture of career growth opportunities in mechanical engineering, chemistry, biology, sales and marketing, finance and accounting, logistics and distribution and presently we have 41 Liberians in our employ," he said.
Explaining the company's vision, Modad said AFC will support self-sufficiency and reduce Liberia's dependency on importation by ensuring adequate and consistent supply of locally produced food and beverage products.
According to him, clean healthy drinkable water is essential to healthy living and a key requirement for socio-economic growth.
"Our strategy includes ensuring the empowerment as well as creating market access and opportunities for local produce by establishing produce purchasing stations (for agricultural inputs) and wholesale distribution centers (for processed goods) in various populated and accessible urban and rural communities," said Modad.
Mr. Modad explains the process of the plant to Vice President Boakai during the tour of the facility.
Speaking to Modad in an interview, he said coming from a trade development background, he believes that Liberia's comparative advantage is its natural resources and assets, "thus, sustainable economic growth rests on how Liberia trades its natural resources." He said: "This must begin with encouraging Liberian participation and dominance in the supply and value chains of critical growth sectors such as agriculture and agro-processing."
He said the production of beverages and packaged foods "will impact poverty reduction and foster community development by creating jobs, providing market access to local farmers and out-growers, positively impacting Liberia's balance of trade through import substitution, reduce mortality rate, improving health, and creating a new value chain that other Liberian enterprises could benefit such as traders, transportation companies, professional service providers."
"AFC will be involved in the manufacturing and trading of food products. The company will offer a wide variety of packaged products including beverages, edible oils, fruits, vegetables, processed snacks, and traditional ready to eat Liberian cuisines."
He said Liberians love their traditional red palm-oil, "in fact, it is preferred over the processed and imported oils. However, there has never been any form of mechanized processing or bottling of edible oils in Liberia. Thus, this provides an untapped potential for the domestic consumption as well as exports to Diaspora markets."